Time was, opposing politicians knew how to deal

Posted8/19/2019 1:00 AM

Imagine two political entities. On one side, President Donald Trump and the four Democratic congresswomen of color known as the "Squad"; and on the other, President Lyndon Johnson and Illinois Republican Sen. Everett Dirksen.

Seasoned observers may recall phrases like "smoke-filled room" where cigar- chomping politicians met to make decisions intended for voters. President Johnson was a skilled practitioner. To some degree, history has judged this an era of highly flawed "ends justifies the means" leaders.


They were a dubious bunch perhaps, but things got done.

In October 1996, Chicago journalist James Warren explained how Johnson and Dirksen, despite being political rivals managed to pass landmark legislation: "Party loyalty did not get in the way" Warren wrote, "Indeed, it was Dirksen who made the nominating speech at the 1964 Republican National Convention for Barry Goldwater, who proceeded to be crushed by Johnson in the general election."

Can you see President Donald Trump and any "Squad" member exercise similar cooperation today?

President Johnson, a Democrat, and Sen. Dirksen with some other Republicans found a way to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act without acrimony. Pragmatism was the go-to position when all else failed. Now both sides just default to obstinance.

What a shame. You could once vote undesirables out of office, but what do you do when there are only undesirables?

Both political parties could help by offering better candidates.

Republicans with a little backbone could support someone to challenge Trump in the primaries (Mitt Romney, perhaps?), and Nancy Pelosi's "squad" should stop mud wrestling with the President over every tweet. He's better at it than they are. Just field a sensible candidate and stop insulting each other.

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It's cold comfort, but we can be glad that the Civil Rights Act didn't depend on people like President Donald Trump and current Democratic lawmakers.

Jim Newton


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